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WASHINGTON — One of your Congressmen in Washington is demanding that his colleagues act to keep Medicare reimbursement rates from being cut at the start of next year.

When a patient is on Medicare their doctors’ bills are covered by the government. As such the doctors they see who give them the care they need are reimbursed for treating them. Depending on the type of visit it is, whether it be a check-up or a trip to the emergency room, there are levels under which these types of doctor’s visits fall under and the reimbursement rate is different for each level.

These reimbursement rates are due to be cut by as much as 10-percent at the start of next year unless Congress votes to keep them the same or increase them. Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), who is a medical doctor by trade, took the time to remind his fellow lawmaker of the predicament in a House Commerce Committee hearing on Tuesday.

“My friends in the majority (House Democrats) are planning to spend trillions of dollars, yet nowhere in their spending packages are help for our providers facing looming reimbursement cuts,” Bucshon said. “This could decrease access to care, by the way.”

Bucshon fears that upon the reimbursement rate cuts taking effect in January of 2022, it will begin a trend of early retirements among medical doctors and also discourage younger people from considering a profession in medicine.

“Just last month, here in this committee, I offered an amendment during the reconciliation mark-up that would have alleviated most of these looming cuts for at least one year to provide our heroes on the front lines with some relief,” Bucshon added. “However that amendment was rejected.”

Bucshon said not freezing or raising reimbursement rates is a “direct threat” to Americans’ access to medical care. He said not acting could lead to physician shortages, especially in rural parts of the country.

A group of bipartisan lawmakers agree with Bucshon and have put forth a bill this month to address to looming rate cuts called the Stabilizing Medicare Access to Rehabilitation and Therapy (SMART) Act co-authored by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) and Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.).

“Having access to physical and occupational therapy is a vital resource for our nation’s seniors and patients with mobility issues,” said Smith. “Medicare cuts to these services will reduce access to care.”

It’s not clear when the bill will come up for a vote.